Program Structure

JD-PhD Course of Study

Students can select a doctoral program in any discipline, provided they can incorporate their interest in law with their graduate research, and they can complete a dissertation that draws on both disciplines.

Northwestern JD-PhD students have come from a range of PhD programs, including: African-American Studies; Anthropology; Economics; Finance; History; Media, Technology & Society; Political Science; Philosophy; Psychology; Religion; Sociology; and Civil Engineering. 

The JD-PhD Program has a strong relationship with the American Bar Foundation (ABF), a research institution dedicated to the study of law and legal institutions through the lens of social science. Several ABF researchers teach at Northwestern University and are eager to work with JD-PhD students.

Typical Program Structure*

Year One

  • Graduate School course work
  • Summer - Graduate School research

Year Two

  • Graduate School course work
  • Summer - Graduate School research

Year Three

  • Law School course work
  • Summer - Graduate School and/or Law School research
  • Advancement to PhD candidacy before start of year four

Year Four

  • Law School course work and Graduate Assistantship or TA
  • Summer - Submission of prospectus before start of year five

Year Five

  • Research at the Law School or Graduate School
  • Summer - Submission of prospectus before start of year six

Year Six

  • Writing and completion of dissertation

* Subject to PhD departmental requirements

Graduation Requirements

Both the JD and PhD are awarded concurrently after all degree requirements are satisfied for both programs, including completion of:

  • Two years of Law School credit hours in addition to the 14 credit hours awarded for law-related interdisciplinary graduate course work, 

  • All Law School requirements apart from course hours, and

  • All course work and other requirements, including the dissertation, that are necessary for the PhD. 

JD-PhD students are required to have a member of the Northwestern Law faculty on their dissertation committee. Doing so satisfies the Law School writing requirement.